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15 October 2006, 02:01 pm
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Beijing 2008

Neither heavy rain nor lack of wind, not to mention steep chop with a four-foot swell and 'tons of kelp,' failed to deter the leaders from their appointed rounds on day two of Tornado catamaran competition in the US Sailing Pre-Trials on Saturday, as John LOVELL and Charlie OGLETREE (USA) won both races in six knot zephyrs. In the Laser Radial trials the world's top two ranked skippers are tied for the lead.
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LOVELL and OGLETREE's long time tuning partners, Enrique FIGUEROA and Jorge HERNANDEZ (PUR), remained in second place in the twelve boat fleet, now four points behind after a second and a third, with two races remaining Sunday.

It is the first of three weekends of Pre-Trial events for eight of the eleven Olympic events in southern California, collectively grouped as US Olympic Trials West. The Tornados are being hosted by San Diego Yacht Club and are racing three times around a 1.8 mile windward-leeward race course on the open ocean three miles south of the city, where conditions have been compared to Qingdao, the 2008 Olympic venue.

Steering Key

'Steering is really important,' LOVELL said, 'and sail trim is key, especially when you can make ten lengths on somebody on one wave. Teamwork really pays off.'

OGLETREE had the added responsibility of keeping the rudders and dagger boards clear of kelp.

'There were tons of kelp,' LOVELL said. 'We have our boards painted white so we can see it, and Charlie made a constant circle around the boat keeping everything clear.'

FIGUEROA and HERNANDEZ have been practicing with LOVELL and OGLETREE since 2000, when both went to the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and later to Athens in 2004.

'They're sailing really well,' FIGUEROA said. 'We both still have to qualify our countries [for 2000], but it would be a dream if we wind up competing for medals at Qingdao.'

Olympic Track Record

LOVELL and OGLETREE scored silver at Athens in their third Olympics, as FIGUEROA and HERNANDEZ placed seventh.

Although they have a new boat, the Puerto Ricans are slightly handicapped this weekend by sailing with an old aluminium mast and used sails.

Over in Newport, Rhode Island there is a big showdown set at the Pre-Trials for the Laser Radial, with World number one Anna TUNNICLIFFE (USA) tied for the lead with ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year nominee Paige RAILEY (USA).

Pre-Trials for the Laser and Yngling, plus 2.4 Metre, Sonar and SKUD18 for disabled sailors, are also underway at Newport, this weekend.

Coming Up Next

Next weekend from 20-22 October the 49ers will be at Southwestern YC in San Diego, the Finns at Newport Harbour YC and the Stars at California YC in Marina del Rey. The spectacle will finish on 26-29 October with four days of racing for the Men's and Women's 470s at the US Sailing Centre in Long Beach and the Men's and Women's RS:X - the new Olympic windsurfing equipment - just down the street at Alamitos Bay YC.

A year from now the same venues in San Diego, Newport Beach, Long Beach and Marina del Rey will host the formal Olympic Trials to select the one boat in eight of the eleven classes that will represent the United States in the 2008 Olympic sailing at Qingdao, China in 2008.

For a complete list of all the news about the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games CLICK HERE.

Rich ROBERTS (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Anna TUNNICLIFFE ties for the lead in the Laser Radial trials:© Amory ROSS
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